Taking a break from my Monster Hunter obsession and instead continuing my Final Fantasy obsession, I have decided to make two Final Fantasy-inspired subclasses: the Dark Knight and the Dragoon. Final Fantasy IV (some may know it as FF2) was my very first foray into the series, and I’ve never forgotten it. In particular, the often-tenuous friendship between Cecil and Kain has always stuck with me. The dark knight and the dragoon.
So, of course, I had to try my hand at crafting these subclasses.
The Oath of the Dark Knight: PDF Link
The Dragoon: PDF Link
The Dark Knight
I knew from the start that the Dark Knight had to be a paladin subclass. Final Fantasy IV follows Cecil the dark knight as he seeks redemption, eventually becoming a paladin. In a D&D context, I love the idea of him instead switching oaths, going from the Oath of the Dark Knight to the Oath of Redemption.
I struggled with some of the mechanics for a while, even going so far at one point as to consider making the Dark Knight a subclass for Matt Mercer’s Blood Hunter. In the end, though, I think I came up with an idea that fits solidly with what the class is supposed to be: a dark warrior that achieves victory at the cost of his own soul.
Paladin Oath: The Oath of the Dark Knight
The dark knights are an order of paladins carefully selected and trained within the kingdom of Baron. They are trained to be conquerors and leaders, commanding the king’s armies and laying low his enemies. To this end, they are practitioners of a form of shadow magic, allowing them to sacrifice shards of their soul to armor themselves, strike down their foes, and command strange, unearthly powers.
Tenets of the Dark Knight
Part of becoming a dark knight is memorizing the tenets of the order, and reciting them before the king on the day you receive your knighthood.
Long Live the King. A dark knight’s first duty is to their king. His word is highest in the land, even above that of the gods.
Pay the Blood Price. No victory comes without sacrifice. It is a dark knight’s duty to succeed at any cost; even their own life.
Gaze Upon True Terror. Dark knights enact their king’s law through any means necessary, including control and fear, without empathy or remorse.
|OATH OF THE DARK KNIGHT FEATURES|
|3rd||Oath Spells, Channel Divinity|
|7th||Cloak of Shadows (1/rest)|
|18th||Cloak of Shadows (2/rest)|
You gain oath spells at the paladin levels listed in the Oath of The Dark Knight Spells table. See the Sacred Oath class feature for how oath spells work.
|OATH OF THE DARK KNIGHT SPELLS|
|3rd||Arms of Hadar, Cause Fear|
|5th||Darkness, Shadow Blade|
|9th||Fear, Hunger of Hadar|
|13th||Evard’s Black Tentacles, Shadows of Moil|
|17th||Dominate Person, Enervation|
When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options. See the Sacred Oath class feature for how Channel Divinity works.
Soul Eater. When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you may use your Divine Smite feature by expending life force instead of spellcasting power. Your attack deals additional damage as if you had expended your highest-level spell slot, except the damage is necrotic rather than radiant. In addition, you suffer damage equal to twice the level of the spell slot (this damage bypasses resistance and immunity). Your maximum hit points are also reduced by this same amount. This reduction lasts until you finish a long rest. You die if this effect reduces your hit point maximum to 0.
Shadow Armor. As a bonus action, you summon a suit of blackened magical armor onto your body. This armor lasts for 10 minutes, or until you dismiss it as a bonus action. As long as you wear this shadow armor, your armor class cannot be reduced below 17, and you gain resistance to radiant and necrotic damage.
At 20th level, you instead gain resistance to all damage while wearing your shadow armor.
Cloak of Shadows
At 7th level, you gain advantage on all Dexterity (Stealth) checks. In addition, as long as you remain in dim light or darkness, you can use your action to become invisible for up to 10 minutes. Anything you are wearing or carrying is also invisible as long as it is on your person. You immediately become visible if you make an attack, cast a spell, or enter an area of bright light.
Once you use this feature, you cannot do so again until you complete a short or long rest.
At 18th level, you can use this feature two times before you need to rest.
At 15th level, the damage done to your soul has fractured it in two, manifesting a dark spirit that controls your actions when you cannot. When your hit points are reduced to 0, you can choose to not fall unconscious, instead granting control of your body to this spirit. You still roll death saving throws at the start of each of your turns normally. The dark spirit’s ability to control your body is limited, however. Until you die, become stable, or regain at least 1 hit point, you cannot cast spells, use bonus actions, and you can only make a single attack when using the attack action. In addition, while you are in this state and would take damage, you can use your reaction to reduce that damage to 0.
Once you use this feature, you cannot do so again until you complete a long rest.
Role-Playing the Dark Passenger
While the rules only dictate that the dark passenger becomes present when the dark knight falls unconscious, feel free to expand this for the purpose of role-play. Consider giving this alternate persona a name and personality.
Perhaps the dark passenger is always communicating with the Paladin, offering advice or encouraging their worst tendencies. Don’t feel limited by the strict reading of the rules, and have some fun with it!
At 20th level, you reach the pinnacle of the Dark Knight’s abilities. You gain the following benefits:
- You can now use your Channel Divinity feature three times between rests.
- When under the effects of your Dark Passenger feature, you can now cast spells, take bonus actions normally, and you make two attacks when using the attack action.
I did a LOT of tweaking on this one, and I’m still not 100% sure that this is its final form. A big part of my constant tweaking was the jump ability. I wanted to find some kind of middle-ground between the fairly-grounded nature of the D&D fighter class and the frankly-outlandish abilities that dragoons have on display in the Final Fantasy games. They leap hundreds of feet into the air and stay there long enough to give their allies multiple turns before they fall back down. That…simply isn’t viable or interesting in a D&D context.
So, instead, I took some time and considered what my preference would be as a GM describing a Jump attack to my players, if they were to fight a dragoon. I landed on the idea that the dragoon leaps upwards of 30 feet into the air, and then dive-bombs them.
“The wind picks up as the warrior hurls himself into the air, reaching an apex thirty feet above before spinning and repositioning his weapon directly toward you. As he falls, you see the head of his spear begin to glow bright red. Make a dexterity save.”
I figured that this would give a strong visual image while also being something practical in a D&D context.
Hopefully you agree with my assessment.
Martial Archetype: The Dragoon
It is said that the first Dragoons were barbarian kings who learned their magicks from dragons themselves. Now, however, they are an elite fighting force under the command of the king of Baron. Their command of the skies and ability to drop on their enemies without warning makes them ideal for ambushing enemy forces and taking out high-value targets.
|7th||Ride the Wind|
When you choose this martial archetype at 3rd level, you gain the ability to jump impossibly high into the air and drop directly on top of your foes. As an action, you leap into the air and target a point on the ground. The point can be no farther from you than your remaining walking speed would normally allow you to move, and this action consumes an amount of movement speed equal to the distance between you and the targeted point. You must have at least 30 feet of open air above you to use this feature. Each creature within a 5-foot radius sphere of the point you chose must make a Dexterity saving throw. A target takes damage equal to your weapon damage (including ability modifiers) plus 1d8 additional damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful save. This damage increases as you increase in level, as noted on the Jump Bonus Damage table.
When you land after a Jump, you take no falling damage and occupy closest empty space to the point where you landed.
The DC for the Dexterity saving throw is equal to 8 + your Proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier, whichever is higher.
You can use this feature three times, and regain all expended uses upon completing a short or long rest.
|JUMP BONUS DAMAGE|
Starting at 3rd level, you gain vigor whenever you strike your enemies. Whenever you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you gain 5 temporary hit points. If the attack brings the creature to 0 hit points, you instead gain 10 temporary hit points.
Ride the Wind
At 7th level, you gain proficiency with the Athletics skill, and gain double your proficiency bonus on checks made using that skill. You also no longer take damage from falling less than 100 feet.
In addition, you can jump three times the normal distance, though you can’t jump farther than your remaining movement speed would allow.
Starting at 10th level, whenever you use the Jump action and have at least 60 feet of open air above you, you may apply one of the three benefits below to your jump.
- Spineshatter Dive. You come down hard on your foes, aiming to cause grievous injury. Each creature that fails its saving throw against your Jump is stunned until the end of your next turn.
- Meteoric Impact. You land with enough force to crack the earth below. The area affected by your Jump increases to a 10-foot radius sphere, and the entire area is considered difficult terrain after you land. This option may cause you to fall straight through weaker surfaces, at the DM’s discretion.
- Part the Clouds. You take off with enough force that every creature within 5 feet of you must succeed on a Strength saving throw (the DC equals your Jump DC) or fall prone due to the pressure wave you exert. In addition, as you fall, you gather elemental energy, and deal an additional 1d8 points of cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage.
When you reach 15th level, the magics that infuse you help to keep you alive even when you fall in battle. When you take damage that brings you to 0 hit points but does not kill you outright, you may immediately use your Second Wind to regain hit points. This expends your use of Second Wind.
Upon reaching 18th level, you may use your Jump action an unlimited number of times.
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